If I Can: re-wiring George The Funky Chicken

One thing about living in the city, you never know what’ll show up in your alley.  Usually it’s not the best surprise (hint: that’s not Santa…) but sometimes it is.  Tada: George the Funky Chicken!


How could I leave him out there all alone? Yes, I feel sorry for the lamp. So I took him in, cleaned him up, and gave him a place of honor right in the front room. Only one problem.

He doesn’t work.

So, I figured that with my vast knowledge of electrical wiring [kaff] I could figure out how to fix George. And the interwebs didn’t let me down. Mostly because it’s a super-easy project that I knocked out in less than an hour.  Here’s how I did it. Continue reading “If I Can: re-wiring George The Funky Chicken”


If I Can: I sing the home electric

Well  since my last attempt, I may not be able to do more than swap stuff, but I’m enjoying the process.


#1: The outlet above my oven. It started off wired. And by wired I mean wires hanging out of an open box.


So since this is the same deal – copper ground, white neutral, black live – I tried to do it myself. But I had no idea how to attach the outlet to the box, as it didn’t fit. But I learned something; the round, “Mickey Mouse” edges of an outlet snap right off with a slight bend from handy-dandy pliers. Voila! Fit perfectly. Later, I told the guys at the Depot what I’d done. Apparently those bits are made to snap off for exactly that reason: not all boxes are rectangular, so boom, snap to fit!

#2: USB chargers built right into an outlet! How festive! And a nice idea for someone like me who constantly charges her phone. Again, the copper/white/black = an easy swap.

#3: Another upgrade, a light-sensitive nightlight built into an outlet! This one was tough, as there are only three points of contact –  green screw for ground, silver for the white neutral wire, black (though sometimes it’s just uncoated brass) for the black live wire – and the outlet wasn’t just using 3 wires, it had an extra white neutral & black live. Why? Because it was part of a chain of electrical connections. Wanna know how I found out?

I installed the first one in the upstairs hall , and the lights in the front bedroom went boink.

I thought I’d simply burned out the closet light (not checking the main room, as it was daytime). But NOOOOO. Headed out to the Depot, and grilled…er, asked the guys who taught my wiring seminar what they thought it was. “Could be anything”, they replied. Perhaps a blown fuse?

So I went home and promptly freaked out. Did I end up costing myself more than I would have if I’d gotten it done professionally from the start? After 20 minutes my pity party was over, and I pulled a Winnie the Pooh and had a good think….

Could the two white wires & two black wires use just one screw/connection? Y’know, double up on each screw? Bopped back to the Depot, and the answer?

“Of course. Happens with those specialty outlets all the time.”

So I did, and it worked. And now I have a nightlight in the hall, and and lights in the front bedroom. Huzzah!

Bonus? I now love electrical tape. Insulation of the gods!

Off to shovel popcorn into my gaping maw. Treat yo self!

If I can: Installing A New Light Switch


Okay, more like me take workshop at Home Depot, and then me go home and do exactly what the nice people showed me how to do.  But I still feel a bit like Doctor Frankenstein crossed with Thomas Edison.  My light switch!  It’s alive!  ALIIIIIIIVE!!!

Ahem.  Anyway.

This all got started because 1) I wanted to try to figure out how to do basic DIY on my own, rather than relying on my competent friends that have other lives and stuff, and 2) my TV room light switch is hella hard to find in the dark.  So I’ve been dreaming about putting in a flip-switch that has a glow-light for easy finding in the pitch.

Turns out it was a whole lot easier than I’d anticipated.  Easier still, as I was simply swapping one switch for another.  Which meant I took the ground wire from Switch 1, put it on Switch 2, took the top circuit wire from Switch 1, put it on Switch 2, took the bottom circuit wire from Switch 1, put it on Switch 2, and then screwed the new switch in.  Don’t believe me? Here’s how it went. 

[NOTE: I flipped the circuit breaker on the entire house before attempting any of this.  My security system beeped the whole time, but it was totally worth soothing the “what if I electrocute myself?” worries…]

Me Make POWER text

Aaaaand that’s that.  Now I have a groovy new light switch, and I gotta be honest; I can’t stop staring at it.  It’s unbelievable to me that I was able to do this myself.  And now that I know how, it’s unbelievable that it’s so freakin’ easy.

Next?  Flip-switches on All The Things!

More snow, insulated pipes, sofa forts and housework.

Snow means one thing around here: Cabin Fever. When we get this much snow, and this much freezing cold (-13° wind chill? A heat wave at 41°?) it’s nuts.


So of course, I stayed in and caught up on stuff. Translation: I stayed in and got attacked by needy, needy kittens. And instead of de-fuzzing the sofa, I stripped it, and made a fort.

Tippi approved.

When they weren’t jumping my sheisse, they helped make the bed…

...by keeping the bed from floating away.

Later, I snuck down to put foam tube insulation on the water pipes in the Swamp Room. Because it’s cold outside. Also, because I had a nightmare about pipes bursting. And zombies. Of course, I listened. So no zombie apocalypse on my watch y’all. You’re welcome.


It’s easier to use than it looks. Because I know it looks horrible, but waiting til it’s freezing = grabbing a bunch of various sizes. I’ll even things out eventually…

Small things

Spring. Well, til the 21st at least. It’s the time when everything is kinda wee. Case in point? These berries. Cute, right?


I’m guessing I could have bigger berries, but as I don’t use much fertilizer (or any pesticides)? Yeah, they are what they are.

You want more tiny? I got your tiny right here. On the screen door.


So small! And don’t worry, I moved him from the door to the pansies. Safety first.

I should should be pulling out the grout in my upstairs bathroom. But after my nephew jumped on me & hung on for what seemed like forever (but was probably a minute), my right leg is twingy and a little numb. I’ma rest. Because this will require more than a passing bit of elbow grease:



It’s electric! – Ceiling fan installation made easy (because somebody else did it.)

Remember when I had a friend come over and put in my kitchen ceiling fan? Well, he’s baaaaack! And this time it’s the 2nd bedroom. He makes it look so freaking easy….

Prep: stare at the hole in your ceiling. Attach the black ceiling fan holder thingy.

First: get all your ducks parts in order.

Then, feed the wires through the thingy. (Actual electrician talk. I’m guessing.)

Next, screw the wires together like it says in the instructions, then screw the whole thing up on the ceiling. Because it’s a ceiling fan. image

Make sure you personalise your fan pull. (That’s one of the glass beads I made in my lampwork class last August.)

Finally, check out the new fan. Tell yourself you need to pitch out the box now. But fan! Woot!

See? Easy!

DIY disasters: fuzzy nipples?

Easter with a lost voice can suck. Plenty of rest, sure. But I missed hanging out with the nieces and nephew.

So? Time to destroy the house!

I decided that I had had enough of the rusty water coming out of the upstairs bathroom tub tap. Google said it’d be easy to pop the spout, so I did. Horror ensued.


Apparently, that pipe is galvanised steel, rather than copper or brass. Problem? Steel rusts. Ergo, tons of ick. All in my water. Eeeeew!

BTW, that pipe sticking out, that you screw/stick the spout on? It’s a nipple. Of course. #themoreyouknow

So, after freaking out about how much it could cost, I decided to have a look at the pipes. I gently opened up the drywall behind the spout….

So very gently.

Anyway, after that drywall bloodbath, I finally found the pipes noticed that the switch was attached by brass fittings! Yaaaaay brass!

Brass is the bestest.

So, trying my luck, I went lower and peeked at the pipes leading to the spout. Aaaaaaand….

Looks like it’s just screwed on!

Fingers crossed that it’s an easy, “unscrew the old, screw on the new”. And that it’s the same dealio downstairs as well….

Either way, I’ma get a professional in. Because better safe than sorry.